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LETTER: Conquering bullying takes work from everyone

17-year-old opens up about impact of bullying, calls for personal actions from everyone to put an end to the violence, trauma
Tyler Baz, 17, shares his story of being bullied as a teen, and asks people to consider their role in preventing others from being picked on as he was.

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My name is Tyler Baz. I am 17 years old. Over two years ago, I was at the ending stages of being a victim of bullying.

I was bullied for over five years at my former school, which affected me on a near-daily basis. My mental health suffered severely and I was taking my pain out on my family.

I remember, I would think to myself “would anyone care if I went missing?” and as years went on, it turned into “would anyone care if I died?” No one knew of those thoughts and I only started talking about them a few months ago.

Some examples of things that I was bullied and picked on include, but were not limited to: my intelligence, my social preference, my books, my hearing disability, my weight and body image, and my sexuality. I was even physically assaulted once. There were also situations in the change rooms in which the boys would harass me and make me feel extremely uncomfortable.

All, or most, schools say “don’t bully, be kind, treat others how you want to be treated, report bullying if you see it,” etc., and I fully agree with those, but what does that actually do? Does it limit or lessen the amount of bullying that happens? Maybe, but more often than not, it doesn’t. How do I know that? Because I heard it over and over, year after year, and it still happened.

Bullying happens, I get that, I do, but bullying can be managed, even prevented. There is always an underlying or subconscious reason for why people bully. Maybe they’re jealous of someone, maybe they aren’t feeling too good about themselves, maybe they’re less educated about the harm their words and actions have on someone, maybe they’re being abused at home, or maybe they learned to be a bully. There are a number of reasons for why people bully. Bullying doesn’t just happen, bullying happens because someone is going through something, has gone through something, or has been taught to bully.

That being said, what are parents and guardians going to do about it? What are the perpetrators and bystanders going to do about it?

This is just my own story, but there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions more untold stories, victims who have been silenced like I was. Well, not anymore. I am speaking up, I am shouting, I am standing my ground!

This is not right!

What are people going to learn if they aren't held responsible for their actions? They will learn that it’s OK to do what it is that they are doing and that they can get away with it.

Moving on from being a victim of bullying is very possible with the necessary support that I am privileged to have, but the trauma that a person gets from bullying can last for years after it ends. Even though my suicidal ideations ended a few years ago, the trauma from the bullying that I experienced is still with me and still affects me in many ways.

Bullying is a form of violence. Those that bully in elementary school might bully in high school, in the workplace, and might abuse their partners in their relationships and their future kids.

In relationships, toxic becomes abusive/violence, bullying becomes violence. Homophobia is violence, queerphobia is violence, sexism and misogyny is violence, racism is violence, ableism is violence.

Not intervening appropriately is violence!

Everyone plays a role in bullying. Victims, perpetrators, bystanders, teachers, parents, heads of schools, everyone! Everyone plays a role.

What is your role and what are you going to do about it?

Tyler Baz